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The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran
July 13, 2013
Match factsSunday, July 14
Big PictureIn the last five years, among the eight major Test teams, Pakistan and West Indies have played the least number of Tests. Yet, they haven't been able to work out dates for a Test series between the two sides, which leaves them playing out a bunch of ODIs and Twenty20s. What's more, this and the recent tri-series in the Caribbean, which featured India and Sri Lanka, means the only Tests in West Indies' home season were the ones against a rebuilding Zimbabwe.
Pakistan are also in a rebuilding phase after some indifferent recent results. The experience of Younis Khan was dispensed with even before the Champions Trophy, and after the winless campaign in England, they have jettisoned the seasoned trio of Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat. That doesn't mean they are light on experience though, as the exciting but wildly inconsistent Shahid Afridi makes yet another comeback.
Exciting but wildly inconsistent is a phrase that could be applied to plenty of batsmen in the West Indies squad as well. The batting wasn't up to the mark in the recent tri-series and they will be tested again by Pakistan's high-quality bowling attack. While they have several batsmen who can play blinders and take the game away from the opposition, they are short of the sort of batsman who can grind it out in difficult conditions. There were collapses aplenty in the tri-series,something they have to look to arrest this time around.
Another blot West Indies will want to erase is their dodgy record at home against Pakistan, having comprehensively lost the previous two series. For that, they will first need the weather to clear up - scattered thunderstorms are predicted on Sunday, and at least light rain is expected through the week.
The series also marks the return of international cricket to Guyana after a two-year absence, during which there has been plenty of conflict between the government and the country's cricket board.
Form guide(most recent first, last five completed matches)
In the spotlightUmar Akmal was one of the surprise omissions from Pakistan's squad for the Champions Trophy. The 23-year-old's talent is widely acknowledged but Pakistan want him to deliver more often. There will be a bit less pressure on him to score big though as he is now the team's first-choice wicketkeeper, taking over from his brother Kamran. In the challenging conditions of the Caribbean, he will be tested both in front and behind the wicket.
Marlon Samuels, the batsman West Indies look to in case of a top-order failure, had a miserable tri-series, with scores of 15*, 1, 6 and 0. He needs to do a lot better if West Indies are to cope with the plethora of flashy, mercurial batsmen in the line-up.
Despite the changes in the squad, Pakistan's bowling won't be shuffled too much. They are likely to go in with the three left-arm quicks and Saeed Ajmal, with allrounders Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi also providing options. The batting should see more changes with Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal set to return.
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Amin, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Junaid Khan, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Irfan
West Indies will be boosted by the return from suspension of their captain Dwayne Bravo, who will probably take the place of the struggling Devon Smith.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Tino Best
Stats and trivia
Quotes"To get to 250 ODIs is always good, take a lot of years, so my service for West Indies has actually been good."
"We're disappointed with the Champions Trophy result, we want to turn things around."
Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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